Kris Saradpon

Kris Saradpon thrives at being able to diagnose a problem and fix it.

Why Selected?

David McHugh, executive chef for SDSU Dining Services, says: Kris built, refined and is in charge of our Quality Assurance Program. He has put together several complete recipe books including ingredients, methods and photos of the method as well as the finished product. Kris also successfully manages between 15 and 20 employees in our cold prep kitchen that produces thousands of items weekly.

Details

Manager, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
Age: 29
Education: B.A. in political science from the University of California, San Diego; A.O.S. in culinary arts and baking and pastry from Grossmont College, El Cajon, Calif.
Years at organization: 5

Get to know

Q. What has been your proudest accomplishment?

Winning two ACF gold medals and the NACUFS Culinary Challenge. For me, the wins are a testament to how much support I have at SDSU Dining Services. Also, without the talented team and encouragement from my supervisors, I would not have the luxury of time to practice or receive honest and constructive criticism about my dishes. 

Q. What would you say you excel at over more seasoned colleagues?

I think I can diagnose what is broken, how to fix it and, from there, how to make it better. For instance, when I first started, I had to train all of my employees how to build each type of grab-and-go salad. I created an easy-to-follow, step-by-step recipe book with all the measurements, ingredients and color photos. In the end, I only had to train each person on how to use the recipe book instead of how to make each type of salad. 

Q. What's the best career advice you've been given?

If it is easy, it’s not worth it. It is not necessarily the end result that successful people enjoy, but rather the journey they took and challenges they had to overcome in order to get there. 

Q. What's been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?

Building enough confidence to compensate for my lack of experience. Also, being a younger manager is like a double-edged sword because I have to excel at my job twice as much to earn the respect of team members who are older than me and have more experience, as well as prove to my younger staff that I am knowledgeable and talented. 

Q. What's been your most rewarding moment?

At the beginning of the school year, we hire student employees who do not know how to cook or clean or hold a knife, but with time many of them blossom into hardworking and talented cooks. Seeing how far they’ve come at the end of the year is very rewarding.

Q. What would you like to accomplish in your career in the next two years?

I would like to help grow the business and leave a legacy of efficiency and fun. Once we establish a system of delivering consistent high-quality service and food and maintaining a low attrition rate, I would like to duplicate that system and be in charge of running my own unit as a chef manager.  

Q. What's been your funniest on-the-job disaster?

During an on-campus catered event I accidentally bumped into an open cart that was holding four gallons of freshly made vinaigrette. It fell and burst open all over the floor. To me, it all happened in slow motion and I thought that I had just ruined the salad course. 

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